Airlines set to lose $84B amid coronavirus pandemic, international group says

Click to play video: 'Airlines navigating a crisis that will change the industry'
Airlines navigating a crisis that will change the industry
WATCH: Airlines navigating a crisis that will change the industry – May 1, 2020

Airlines are set to lose $84 billion as the coronavirus pandemic reduces revenue by half to mark the worst year in the sector’s history, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecast on Tuesday.

With most of the world’s airliners currently parked, IATA said revenue would likely fall to $419 billion from $838 billion last year.

“Every day of this year will add $230 million to industry losses,” IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac said.

The average loss amounts to almost $38 per passenger flown.

In 2021, IATA warned losses could hit $100 billion as traffic struggles to recover and airlines slash fares to win business.

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“Airlines will still be financially fragile in 2021,” De Juniac said, predicting “even more intense” competition.

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“That will translate into strong incentives for travellers to take to the skies again,” he added.

Click to play video: 'Air Canada to lay off at least half its workforce'
Air Canada to lay off at least half its workforce

IATA forecast a rise in 2021 revenue to $598 billion. Airlines are counting the cost of weeks of lost business, a debt pile swollen by bailouts and a diminished demand outlook.

Passenger numbers are seen falling to 2.25 billion this year before rising to 3.38 billion in 2021, still more than 25 per cent below 2019 levels.

Yields, a proxy for fares, are seen falling 18 per cent this year, contributing to a $241 billion decline in passenger revenue.

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Cargo, a relatively small share of the overall business, brought some relief as mass plane groundings drove price increases expected to top 30 per cent, IATA said, helping revenue to a near-record $111 billion.

Even in markets where COVID-19 infection rates have fallen sharply, airlines still face a patchwork of travel restrictions and wary consumers.

A 14-day quarantine for arriving passengers introduced by Britain this week has prompted an angry response and legal threats from the travel industry amid reports that it may be loosened in favour of “air corridors” to some destinations.

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